Hunter vs. Hunt on Turf-13
As a last treat for the 150th anniversary of the Origin, have a look at
young-earth creationist creationist Cornelius Hunter [Update: Hunter has stated he is not a young-earth creationist on his blog, so I guess he’s not, although that position directly follows from his stated theology/philosophy], author of the “Darwin’s God” book and blog. Hunter’s basic argument against virtually any common pro-evolution argument is, basically, “But you evolutionists are claiming that God wouldn’t have done it this way! You’re making an unscientific theological argument!”
(Never mind that when science writers have said things like “this looks like bad design”, they are simply using the design model that creationists themselves put forward – basically, that God is like a human designer, but way better. And never mind that the more sophisticated critiques of creationism – like Darwin’s – have noted that if you disallow the standard creationist assumptions, and just say God’s purposes are mysterious, then you’ve got nothing at all to test against empirical data.)
Anyway, as with many creationists, Hunter thinks his ridiculous little trope is actually a silver bullet that can be used to effortlessly kill any evolutionary evidence, thus saving his tender innocent brain the trauma of actually having to come up with a better explanation than the evolutionary one. The best example of this of late is Hunter’s reaction to T-urf13. In these posts awhile back, PTer Art Hunt explained that T-urf13 is an example of not just a new gene evolving from noncoding DNA – but it appears to be an example of an oligomeric protein complex, with the function of being a regulated ion channel, evolving from noncoding DNA. This natural origin of “new information” AND “new protein-protein binding sites” is just the kind of thing that antievolutionists – most recently ID leader Stephen Meyer in his Signature in the Cell claim can never, ever, ever happen, because the improbabilities are so huge, and because “intelligence” is the only possible explanation for new information.
Well, how does Hunter react to this empirical evidence on the origin of a new gene? He simply ignores the overwhelming sequence evidence right in front of him, and instead claims, based on typical creationist “it must have come together all at once from completely random sequence” assumptions, that the natural origin of T-urf13 is too improbable to be believed. On the strength of this careful, rigorous, half-a-sentence of statistical analysis, Hunter deduces, completely out of thin air, that an elaborate T-urf13-designing mechanism must exist in the corn genome (presumably he thinks this design mechanism was intelligently designed into corn). What supporting evidence does he offer for this quite ambitious hypothesis? He doesn’t even try. For an encore, he goes on to explain that – in essence – evidence for evolution doesn’t count if biologists dare to interpret it in an evolutionary framework. He uses an example of a fossil horse:
Here is a simple example: A new horse fossil is discovered and evolutionists decide where it fits best amongst the already known fossils. It may not fit perfectly, and the evolutionists may be unsure about which twig in the evolutionary bush is right for this new fossil (or if perhaps a new twig should be hypothesized). But they believe evolution is true and so the fossil must fit somewhere. They announce to the world that horse evolution is now better understood and apologists then use the finding as an example of powerful evidence for evolution. After all, the evolution of the horse has been revealed.
But of course the fossil revealed no such evolutionary step–it was interpreted as an evolutionary step. Unfortunately this sophistry is common.
Never mind that even young-earth creationists who have bothered to actually learn a little about the evidence – like Kurt Wise – admit that the fossil record of horses, and the fossil record of numerous other groups, support an evolutionary interpretation. Never mind that Hunter, for his part, spends his time making up excuses rather than explanations for data. Never mind that Hunter’s only “model” is just “God does things however he pleases, and it is not for us to question.” And he has the chutzpah to endlessly accuse scientists of bringing religion into science? Now that’s sophistry.